LJSA: John Henson Q&A

AKRON, Ohio -- Verbally committed 2009 Tar Heel forward prospect John Henson shares time with Inside Carolina at the LeBron James Skills Academy.

It looks like you are having an all right camp so far.

Yeah, I'm playing pretty good. I'm getting my little blocks in, my little points, stuff like that. I'm having fun.

The level of competition that you faced in high school has been a question mark, but these guys are the best of the best and you are holding your own out there.

That is what you come to camps like this to prove--that you can [play] with the best--and I think I'm doing pretty well. My team, we had a 19-point lead and [the other team] came back. Other than that, we've been having a pretty good time.

Take me back in time a little bit to your recruitment. Tell me how you narrowed down your list of schools.

First, I talked to all the coaches and then narrowed it down to three: UCLA, Texas, and UNC. Then I took my visit out to UCLA and to UNC, and I have always been at Texas. I felt like UNC was the best place of all of those schools--the way they treated me, the facilities, the players, all of that. It wasn't very hard [to make a decision], I tell you that.

Tell me about your ties to the state of North Carolina.

I was born there in Greensboro and lived there until I was about five [years old]. My Mom's side of the family, they all live between Chapel Hill and Greensboro, [up] to Danville, Virginia so that is nice.

Was that a factor in your decision?

Yeah, it's always good to be close to family just something happens and there is a time of need. They will be there to help you out.

You said that it was a pretty easy decision to choose North Carolina. What made it easy?

Coach (Roy) Williams, Coach (Steve) Robinson, Coach (Jerod) Haase, Coach (Joe) Holladay, they all treated me well. The were great people to talk to, Coach Williams especially. You want a great head coach, and you can't go wrong with Coach Williams and North Carolina. I figured that is the place I need to be.

The recruiting class you are a part of at UNC is very highly rated. Does it matter the guys who are coming in with you?

Definitely. When you have better players around you, things come easier. You have players who can do some of the same things and some different things. It's always good to play with the best players. It's going to be a nice experience when I get there with them.

What is it like being at this camp with another UNC committed player like Kendall Marshall?

Ah, yeah, you know, Kendall and I are going back and forth on the court, talking a little bit, but it was all fun. He's a great player. He won the game for his team with his assist and the way he carried himself during the game. I admire that; I'm impressed.

I know you know about some of the other guys in that class, but do you know the other guys in that class?

I kind of know them. I've said, 'Hi' every now and then, but I haven't really had a conversation with any of them. But I'm sure I will get to that sooner or later. Kendall is probably one of the closest people that I know because he was on my team last year at Reebok, so that is where I know him from.

Do you text with Kendall at all?

Yeah, we text every now and then. At the hotel we chilled for a little bit and talked.

You showed some impressive ability out there today. What do you think you need to work on the most?

That jumper, right now, is looking kind of messy. I need to work on that; it comes with practice. Really, I'm used to shooting more and getting into a rhythm, but out here you only shoot every once in a while. I think once I get into a rhythm, I'll be able to get it down.

You seem equally comfortable with both hands. How did that develop?

I don't know, when I was younger--I don't know what happened. I just started using my left hand a lot-lot. I'm gradually starting to use my right hand just as [well], but my left hand is a little better.

But you are right-handed, am I correct? You go to your left hand a lot.

It's weird with my left hand. I feel like I get more extension. I can just palm the ball better and do things better with my left hand. I usually come back to the right hand after going left and I can finish like that, so that's always good.

Tell me about your rapid growth spurt.

I grew about six inches in 18 months, and that is pretty much what got me to where I am right now. Growing and having the skills of a little guard--but now I'm taller and I can use my skills as a guard and [now] as a forward.

But having been a guard doesn't hold you back on the inside. Even as light as you are you still battle inside.

Inside, I like contact. I like getting physical with somebody and putting it up, even though I am small. That's just part of what I like to do, so it's always fun banging somebody and then getting the basket or something like that.

Have you encountered anyone who has made it hard to play inside?

When I play a bigger guy--like today I played a big dude from Detroit--I try to use my quickness whereas if I have a dude that is smaller I take him into the post.

When you played the big guy, you weren't afraid to hit or be hit.

I wasn't afraid. What's the worst they can do to you? If you hit them they might hit you back. You just have to take it.

Where you a good smaller player? Were you the star of your middle school team?

Before the growth spurt, eighth grade I was kind of a star, ninth grade I was on varsity. But on varsity all I did, I was a shooter, just strictly catch the ball and shoot it--don't' do anything else--type of guy. That's pretty much what I did. As I got older, gradually I developed other areas. I shot up six inches and that brought it to a whole other level because then I could play against bigger guys and dunk really easy. It was great.

One of the things that impressed me watching you play is how aware you are, how well you understand the game--little things like when you made the left-handed pass across the lane on the break, some guys would have assumed he was going to make a lay-up. You went right to the rim to see if you could get a tip-in. Who coached you on things like that?

Really, it's just--my Dad used to get on me a lot about that. When there is a wide open lay-up or a fast break, you always go to the cup because you never know what could happen. Gradually, it became a habit. You also want that highlight dunk--that's some motivation too.

Another time a guy brings the ball down to the foul line, you backed away so he had a driving lane, and then you filled in behind. Is this your high school coach teaching you these things? Your Dad?

It's my high school coach and just having an instinct for the game. If a guy is driving you want to give him space because if you give him space you also get space and you can do your thing if it comes off the rim.

You don't get caught watching a lot.

That is one of the things that I strive to do. I want to get after it on the defensive end, get rebounds, I want to block [shots]. I want to do [what I can] on the offensive end. The more things you do, the better chance you have to play.

Tell me about why you have moved around so much.

It's because of my Dad's job, but I think that helped me a lot because I have experienced a lot of different cultures of basketball like [New] Jersey, I experienced Memphis, I experienced Detroit-type basketball. That kind of all meshed into one, and I am thankful for that.

What does your father do?

He's the head of talent acquisition at Dell. I just found that out the other day. I said, 'What do you do when people ask me?' He goes to Brazil and other countries like that.

How long have you been in Texas?

This will be my fourth year in Texas, so this is about the longest I've lived somewhere. I lived in Detroit for a year, I lived in New Jersey for three years. I was in Memphis for about five years, and I lived in Carolina for five so I've been around.

How have you found the competition to be in Texas?

In Austin--I'm not trying to dis' Austin or anything--but there are not really players in Austin that compare to the Houston area and Dallas area. There you have big-time ballers. There are people in Austin that can give it to you--I play for a Houston AAU team and I'm down in Houston playing. I come to these events and that is really what keeps me motivated.

Tell me about your conditioning. Another thing that was impressive was that you didn't slow down at any point, and you played a lot because you don't have a full roster. Do you do anything in particular to be in good shape?

My trainer, he helps me out with that. He is always pushing me and telling me to go harder. Ultimately, when you get out here it is second nature. It is easy.

What kinds of things do you do with your personal trainer?

I'm lifting heavy right now. He has me running sprints up and down. Sometimes he will make me get on the track.

What is left of your summer?

After this I have Vegas. I might have a little tournament in Houston. Then L.A. and I am done unless we get the wild card [for a tournament] in Chicago.

You wanted to be here instead of trying out for U.S.A. Basketball?

Last summer I wasn't 'the guy,' I wasn't really highly ranked or known about so I didn't get to go to any camps. I got a last-second call from Reebok saying, 'Come to our camp.' I didn't go to any skills academies or anything. This year I get to go to all that stuff an have those experiences.

But you didn't go to the NBPA Camp. Why was that?

I was actually down at Carolina at the basketball camp, just hanging out with the players and working on my game. I felt like that would be a better experience than the NBA Camp so that is what I did and I had a lot of fun with the coaches and stuff.

I heard a rumor that you were re-thinking your verbal commitment to North Carolina.

Nooooooooooo. Nah, man. I'm staying with Carolina all the way. Why would I de-commit from a place like that?


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